Just when things were starting to return to normal in the Chilean fruit industry, major aftershocks from the massive Feb. 27 earthquake rocked the country the morning of March 10, and U.S. importers said the flow of fruit could be affected.

The aftershocks struck further up the coast than the original quake, closer to the growing region of Rancagua, the Port of Valparaiso — the departure point for most exported fruit — and the capitol of Santiago.

While it was too soon to tell for sure, on the afternoon of March 10, Angie Eastham, West Coast sales manager for Pacific Trellis Fruit, Reedley, Calif., said the Port of Valparaiso could have suffered some damage.

“From what I understand, it did rock it a little bit,” said Eastham, who was on the phone with a co-worker in the company’s Santiago office when one of the aftershocks hit.

Business could be affected for three or four days, she said. The aftershocks caused some power outages and likely some building damage, she said.

Los Angeles-based Bengard Marketing was still waiting the afternoon of March 10 to get a first-hand report from its Santiago office, said Ron Gill, the company’s operations manager.

But the company had heard second-hand reports of highway damage in Rancagua and possible port damage, he said.

Aftershocks in Chile could slow exports

Courtesy Gustavo Yentzen

Members of the Chilean fresh fruit industry recently pitched in to donate to earthquake victims in the country, loading fruit south of Santiago, in Lolol, in the Colchagua Valley.